WARREN Gatland has hailed lock Cory Hill as the most improved forward in the Wales set-up for 18 months and is backing the Dragons captain to help bring the best out of their inexperienced pack against Georgia.

The head coach has delivered on his promise to ring the changes for tomorrow’s autumn Test at Principality Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm).

Liam Williams is the sole survivor in the XV that lost to Australia in Cardiff last weekend, moving from wing to full-back.

Flanker Dan Lydiate leads a team that sees him boast almost twice as many caps as his seven fellow forwards combined, while Wales’ front-five features just 29 Test match appearances.

Cardiff Blues lock Seb Davies starts at number eight, and the third member of Wales’ back-row - Great Britain 2016 Olympic sevens silver medallist Sam Cross - has played just three professional games of 15-a-side rugby.

Hill starts after coming off the bench last week and the 25-year-old will win his eighth cap after making his international bow against the Wallabies last autumn.

The Dragons skipper, who Gatland gave a brief spell with the Lions as injury cover in New Zealand last summer, is no veteran on the Test stage but has been backed as a leader.

“Cory Hill for me has probably been the most improved forward in this environment in the last 18 months,” said Gatland.

“He has really developed, not just as a second row but in terms of leadership, his calling and his understanding.

“He is a player who is comfortable here now, there’s enough of a mix of guys who can make it easier for the youngsters so that they just go out and concentrate on their own jobs, their own role and be excited about the opportunity and occasion.”

Wales are braced for a stern challenge against a Georgia team determined to give credence to their claims to be involved in the Six Nations.

Added to that, Gatland’s men have often spluttered in the ‘fourth’ autumn Test against the likes of Japan, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

“In the past, it has felt like you are kind of in a no-win situation,” said the head coach.

“You’re thinking about the future and you’re wanting to expose youngsters to that level, but sometimes by doing that you know the performance is going to be rusty, and when the performance is rusty, comes the criticism.

“These guys have been together with us for a few weeks, they’ve trained well, they know what is at stake. I’m expecting these guys to go out and play well. We want to build on the positives of last week (against Australia).”

Cross makes a first Wales start, along with centre Owen Watkin, Dragons prop Leon Brown and lock Adam Beard.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb has recovered from knee trouble and is called up, while Scott Williams fills the outside centre position vacated by an injured Jonathan Davies, and experienced campaigners like Lydiate, wing Alex Cuthbert and fly-half Rhys Priestland also feature.

Dragons hooker Elliot Dee is the only uncapped member of the 23 and is set for a debut as a replacement for Kristian Dacey.

Wales: L Williams (Saracens); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys), H Amos (Dragons); R Priestland (Bath), R Webb (Ospreys); N Smith (Ospreys), K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), L Brown (Dragons), A Beard (Ospreys), C Hill (Dragons), D Lydiate (Ospreys, captain), S Cross (Ospreys), S Davies (Cardiff Blues).

Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), T Faletau (Bath), A Davies (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), O Williams (Gloucester).